Halawa guards work 40-50 straight hours as absences and vacancies increase

HONOLULU (KHON2) – A state lawmaker raises a red flag at Halawa Prison over what he calls the health and safety risks of overworked and understaffed prison officers.

State Senator Kurt Fevella, the Senate Minority Leader, made an unannounced visit to the jail and said he discovered that many were working 16 hours straight, and some working up to 50 hours in a row. ‘in a row. This is to cover up the shortage of staff and the others who do not show up for shifts.

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“So imagine you’re working a 40-hour shift and you have to walk the line where the inmates are,” Fevella said. “This presents a safety hazard because of your reaction time. Everyone knows that fatigue is important for your safety.

Fevella says critical positions are no longer filled and services such as the clinic, church and even cafeteria time for inmates need to be reduced. He asks for emergency hires, assigns sheriffs to replace or even calls in the National Guard.

Prison officials told KHON2 that there were 52 vacancies out of around 330 Halawa positions, plus 50 other staff on leave of various kinds.

“Staff who are present and able to work are commended for their public service, dedication and hard work, which goes largely unnoticed by the community,” said a spokesperson for the DPS.

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Complete statement from the Ministry of Public Security:

“The Ministry of Public Security has made no secret of the fact that the Halawa Correctional Facility (HCF) is facing a staff shortage. Contractually, critical security positions should be filled whenever possible, necessitating retaining some employees to work longer shifts in order to maintain adequate coverage of critical positions. The institution and the PSD have a mandate to provide care and safe custody to inmates and will do whatever is necessary to ensure that inmates in our custody are taken care of. It’s a challenge, but HCF best meets all mandatory job requirements and works diligently to maintain operations for the safety and security of inmates, staff and the general public.

HCF is allocated 332 adult correctional officer positions; however, based on vacancies (52), protected leave, workers compensation, TDI and other prolonged absences, the staff physically present at work is considerably lower than the 332 positions allocated to HCF. Of the 332 ACO positions assigned, there are a total of 280 ACO positions filled and over 50 staff on leave of various types, including paid leave, sick, FMLA and military. Staff who are present and able to work are commended for their public service, dedication and hard work, which goes largely unnoticed by the community.

PSD makes every effort to resolve staffing issues. Sheriffs are frequently called upon to assist with perimeter security. They help out when they can, but the Sheriff’s Division is also understaffed and struggles to fill vacancies. Their bargaining unit collective agreement does not include correctional training. In order to consider this option, a trade union consultation with HGEA and UPW would be necessary. PSD is working as quickly as possible to fill vacancies through increased external recruiting efforts, additional recruiting courses for corrections, including day and evening classes, and the hiring of additional emergency hires. . Many of the vacant ACO positions will soon be filled with recruits being trained in our Training Services Division (TSD). Once the training is complete, they will go to their respective institution for the assignment. Additionally, PSD has been in contact with retirees to see if they want to work part-time as well.

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